I've created a new terminfo entry to enable italics in my terminal, as described here. The new terminfo entry looks like:

xterm-256color-italic|xterm with 256 colors and italic,
  sitm=\E[em, ritm=\E[23m,

and it's saved to ~/xterm-256color-italic.terminfo.

I installed the new terminfo entry by running tic -x xterm-256color-italic.terminfo. I see the compiled terminfo file in ~/.terminfo/78/xterm-256color-italic. When I export TERM=xterm-256color-italic and run infocmp, I see:

#   Reconstructed via infocmp from file: /Users/rpatnaik/.terminfo/78/xterm-256color-italic
xterm-256color-italic|xterm with 256 colors and italic,
    am, bce, ccc, km, mc5i, mir, msgr, npc, xenl,
    colors#0x100, cols#80, it#8, lines#24, pairs#0x10000,
    bel=^G, blink=\E[5m, bold=\E[1m, cbt=\E[Z, civis=\E[?25l,
    clear=\E[H\E[2J, cnorm=\E[?12l\E[?25h, cr=\r,
    csr=\E[%i%p1%d;%p2%dr, cub=\E[%p1%dD, cub1=^H,
    cud=\E[%p1%dB, cud1=\n, cuf=\E[%p1%dC, cuf1=\E[C,
    cup=\E[%i%p1%d;%p2%dH, cuu=\E[%p1%dA, cuu1=\E[A,
    cvvis=\E[?12;25h, dch=\E[%p1%dP, dch1=\E[P, dim=\E[2m,
    dl=\E[%p1%dM, dl1=\E[M, ech=\E[%p1%dX, ed=\E[J, el=\E[K,
    el1=\E[1K, flash=\E[?5h$<100/>\E[?5l, home=\E[H,
    hpa=\E[%i%p1%dG, ht=^I, hts=\EH, ich=\E[%p1%d@,
    il=\E[%p1%dL, il1=\E[L, ind=\n, indn=\E[%p1%dS,
    invis=\E[8m, is2=\E[!p\E[?3;4l\E[4l\E>, kDC=\E[3;2~,
    kEND=\E[1;2F, kHOM=\E[1;2H, kIC=\E[2;2~, kLFT=\E[1;2D,
    kNXT=\E[6;2~, kPRV=\E[5;2~, kRIT=\E[1;2C, kb2=\EOE, kbs=^H,
    kcbt=\E[Z, kcub1=\EOD, kcud1=\EOB, kcuf1=\EOC, kcuu1=\EOA,
    kdch1=\E[3~, kend=\EOF, kent=\EOM, kf1=\EOP, kf10=\E[21~,
    kf11=\E[23~, kf12=\E[24~, kf13=\E[1;2P, kf14=\E[1;2Q,
    kf15=\E[1;2R, kf16=\E[1;2S, kf17=\E[15;2~, kf18=\E[17;2~,
    kf19=\E[18;2~, kf2=\EOQ, kf20=\E[19;2~, kf21=\E[20;2~,
    kf22=\E[21;2~, kf23=\E[23;2~, kf24=\E[24;2~,
    kf25=\E[1;5P, kf26=\E[1;5Q, kf27=\E[1;5R, kf28=\E[1;5S,
    kf29=\E[15;5~, kf3=\EOR, kf30=\E[17;5~, kf31=\E[18;5~,
    kf32=\E[19;5~, kf33=\E[20;5~, kf34=\E[21;5~,
    kf35=\E[23;5~, kf36=\E[24;5~, kf37=\E[1;6P, kf38=\E[1;6Q,
    kf39=\E[1;6R, kf4=\EOS, kf40=\E[1;6S, kf41=\E[15;6~,
    kf42=\E[17;6~, kf43=\E[18;6~, kf44=\E[19;6~,
    kf45=\E[20;6~, kf46=\E[21;6~, kf47=\E[23;6~,
    kf48=\E[24;6~, kf49=\E[1;3P, kf5=\E[15~, kf50=\E[1;3Q,
    kf51=\E[1;3R, kf52=\E[1;3S, kf53=\E[15;3~, kf54=\E[17;3~,
    kf55=\E[18;3~, kf56=\E[19;3~, kf57=\E[20;3~,
    kf58=\E[21;3~, kf59=\E[23;3~, kf6=\E[17~, kf60=\E[24;3~,
    kf61=\E[1;4P, kf62=\E[1;4Q, kf63=\E[1;4R, kf7=\E[18~,
    kf8=\E[19~, kf9=\E[20~, khome=\EOH, kich1=\E[2~,
    kind=\E[1;2B, kmous=\E[<, knp=\E[6~, kpp=\E[5~,
    kri=\E[1;2A, mc0=\E[i, mc4=\E[4i, mc5=\E[5i, meml=\El,
    memu=\Em, oc=\E]104\007, op=\E[39;49m, rc=\E8,
    rep=%p1%c\E[%p2%{1}%-%db, rev=\E[7m, ri=\EM,
    rin=\E[%p1%dT, ritm=\E[23m, rmacs=\E(B, rmam=\E[?7l,
    rmcup=\E[?1049l\E[23;0;0t, rmir=\E[4l, rmkx=\E[?1l\E>,
    rmm=\E[?1034l, rmso=\E[27m, rmul=\E[24m,
    rs1=\Ec\E]104\007, rs2=\E[!p\E[?3;4l\E[4l\E>, sc=\E7,
    sgr0=\E(B\E[m, sitm=\E[3m, smacs=\E(0, smam=\E[?7h,
    smcup=\E[?1049h\E[22;0;0t, smir=\E[4h, smkx=\E[?1h\E=,
    smm=\E[?1034h, smso=\E[7m, smul=\E[4m, tbc=\E[3g,
    u6=\E[%i%d;%dR, u7=\E[6n, u8=\E[?%[;0123456789]c,
    u9=\E[c, vpa=\E[%i%p1%dd,

which indicates to me that the terminfo entry has been installed correctly. However, when I run emacs -nw, I get: emacs: cannot open terminfo database file. I've verified that ~/.terminfo and the termcap file are both world-readable, so it shouldn't be a permission issue. I'm wondering where I go from here -- it looks like I've configured everything correctly, and the error message gives me no further details.

I'm running emacs 26.2, which I've installed from Homebrew. This is running on MacOS Mojave 10.14.5.


So, I have found 2 solutions for 2 different terminal emulators.

  1. with Kitty terminal emulator
  2. with Alacritty terminal emulator


Using the Kitty terminal emulator I had the same issue, I was following the emacs FAQ

The fix was to do use=xterm-kitty instead of use=xterm-256color.

So I used:

 xterm-emacs|xterm with 24-bit direct color mode for Emacs,


$ tic -x -o ~/.terminfo terminfo-custom.src

and you can do

$ TERM=xterm-emacs emacs -nw

why does it work? I have no idea, but it didn't work following the xterm-256color, I would get

emacs: cannot open terminfo database file

Related GitHub issue on the Kitty repo


From this other SO question, the following worked by following the FAQ, but using this tic:

/usr/bin/tic -x -o ~/.terminfo terminfo-custom.src

and, works!

when I do which tic I get /opt/local/bin/tic and I guess that one gave me issue.

  • I don't have this issue any more. Something between updating to Catalina, updating emacs, and updating iTerm2 fixed the problem.
    – quanticle
    Feb 17 '21 at 3:05

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